Follow @EllenGrabe Grabe's Gatherings: Where Were You? ~In Remembrance 9/11~

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You? ~In Remembrance 9/11~

This is a question that many people in the past have been asked.  Grandparents have been asked by grandchildren, "Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked?"  Children of my generation have asked their parents, "Where were you when President John F. Kennedy was shot?"  Someday, my children will come home from school and ask, "Mom, where were you when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers?"

The attacks of September 11, 2001 is the most significant event of my generation.  This day will remain fresh and young in my memory, regardless of how old I grow. I will always remember where I was on that dreadful day America was attacked.

I was 19 years old and living on the 4th floor of Campbell Hall on the UNI campus. It was my sophomore year of college and I was trying to make sense of a recent death of a friend and where my life was going or not going with a boy.  My first class the morning of September 11, 2001 was Dynamics of Human Development-a requirement needed in my field of major.  Class began at 9:00am.  I rose that day just like any other and headed for the shower at 7:30.  My roommate had the radio on while getting ready for her day, just as she did every morning.  When I returned from the shower I found her sitting in our 1 glider chair staring at the TV.  Her face was somber and immediately I asked her what was wrong.  She said, "Come look at this."  What I saw was a tower in New York City on fire.  I couldn't make sense of it and asked what was going on.  She said a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.  Not realizing the severity or intent of the situation, my innocent mind thought that the pilot of the plane had something go wrong and it was a random plane crash.  At that time, we really didn't know.

We continued to get ready for the day.  I was blow drying my hair when my roommate yelled at me to stop and that another plane crashed into the 2nd tower.  At that moment we realized this was no accident.  We stood there, safely in our 12 foot by 16 foot home, and stared in silence.

Class time was approaching so we finished getting ready, grabbed our books, and headed out the door.  I sat down in class in my usual spot and a table mate told me another plane hit the Pentagon.  "This is crazy," I replied while shaking my head.  Others were wondering if our professor would let us turn on the T.V. or better yet, let us go.  He walked into the room without a mention of the mornings happenings.  I remember sitting there vigorously taking notes thinking "What is going on outside? What's happening on the TV?  Why isn't he letting us watch!"  We left class at 9:50 and I started my walk across campus to my 10:00 class.  Campus was bare and the few people I did pass were either on their cell phones or walking silently.  I got to my psychology class and learned that both towers had collapsed to the ground and another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania.  The first thing our professor said was, "How many of you want to be here right now?"  No hands were raised.  She then asked, "How many of you want to be watching your TV right now?"  The entire lecture hall had hands raised in the air.  With that she said, "Then go home, call your family, and watch the news." 

 I went back to my dorm and turned on the TV.  What I saw didn't seem real.  Scenes of the planes crashing into the towers, scenes of the towers falling, and scenes of rescue workers running into the rubble to try and save people.  The news would flash scenes of people jumping from the towers before they collapsed.  No where in my mind could I find even a bit of understanding of what these people were feeling.  All I could do was watch and wait and pray. 

Later that evening some friends and I went to a prayer service together at the Union.  It was an emotional event with so many songs, prayers, and many people breaking down in tears.  I had held it together the entire day until walking back to my dorm.  I stopped and just started crying.  My roommate from my freshman year came up and hugged me and we cried together, right there, in the middle of campus.  Although we knew no one in the towers, on the planes, or any of the rescue workers, we cried for the thousands of people that lost their lives in such a short time.  We cried for the families who had lost their loved ones and for the families that still had hopes of their loved ones being found.  We cried for our world and the scary place it had become. 

The skies were quiet the next few days, as air traffic was grounded.  I remember walking across campus, on the sidewalk south of Barlette and Lawther Halls toward Schindler Education Center when I heard a plane.  I looked up and watched it thinking how frightening it would be to board a plane.  America was soon at war and even 10 years later soldiers are being deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. I have the highest amount of respect for all people that have served our country over seas, as well as their families who watched them go off into danger.  In no way do I know what it's like to say goodbye or be deployed so all I feel that I can do is pray for the safety, strength and courage of those involved. I don't say this enough, but THANK YOU to all that have served and fought for our country. This morning former President George W. Bush read a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to a mother who lost 5 of her boys at war (I am assuming this is the Sullivan brothers from Iowa but really am not sure).  It was a letter showing his appreciation and offering his condolences for her losses.  If only a letter like that could be sent out to all families who have someone serving these past 10 years, because in my mind, they all deserve it!

10 years later, and I vividly remember where I was when terrorist attacked the U.S.  Where were you?


Anonymous said...

Ellen, the Sullivan brothers were in WWII. You write SO well!

eemg22477 said...

I was in my living room getting ready for my college class when I flipped on the tv. I don't usually watch tv in the morning, so it was kind of a fluke thing that I happened to tune in that morning. At first I wasn't sure what was happening. The first plane had already hit and I was just saying "Brian, come here. Something has happened" when the second plane hit.
-Emily Gates

Andy said...

I was at work listening to KGGO with my co-workers. At first we weren't sure it was something real. It was hard to listen to the radio and not see any pics or video. Not much work accomplished that day.